Winner: Scott’s Top Questions of 2014 #3
I lose my temper a lot and when I do it’s really bad. My one sister can keep me calm but she’s going to school next year and that’s got me scared. I feel bad after I throw things or call people names. I’ll never have an adult relationship until I learn to control myself. Please tell me you can help.
Fascinating. Despite the fact that your emotional experiences are created through a chemical messaging system between your brain and body, somehow your sister can hack this system and she can control your biology but you cannot! Amazing.
Yes, my tongue is firmly in my cheek. I’m kidding. But it makes my point: you are giving your sister credit for what you have done. You simply believe your sister can calm you down so she can. But it’s not her that does the calming—it’s the belief. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
You sound a bit like the people who tell me they can’t help themselves from hitting their spouse, and yet they’ve never hit their bosses. The control is there, they’re just not applying it in one situation versus another.
It isn’t your sister that calms you down, it’s you. Own that. I’m serious. She can go to school and have a great experience having fun and get educated. Meanwhile, you can still stay calm and collected and in the general state of mind that leads to good, calm decision-making. And you do that by believing in yourself.
Every single state of mind you experience is self-created by you, for you. Don’t blame others for your emotions and don’t give them credit either. Again, it wasn’t your sister running your brain it was you.
Take responsibility and control for what you feel by maintaining an awareness of what you are thinking. If you’re thinking angry thoughts then it’s no surprise that you’re getting angry. And since you’re the one thinking them, once you feel the anger rising, that’s your signal to stop thinking those kinds of thoughts.
And how do you stop? You think of something else. Stop wanting, start appreciating. It’s easy. You’ve already done it, you just used your sister as a cue and now you’re switching to using the angry feelings.
You asked if I can help. No, I can’t. But you can. Pay attention to the direct relationship between how you judge something and how you feel about it. You will quickly see that you’re like some kind of processor that conjures thoughts and elicits feelings, and feelings are what our reality is made of, regardless of which sense it comes to us through.
Remember, if you’re going through puberty or menopause or any other significant hormonal shift, then give yourself some room to have your feelings impacted. I’m not saying it’s fun, but if you know it’s a wave that you just have to survive then it’s a bit easier to deal with some of the associated challenges. Just don’t expect pure calmness when you’re biology is doing loops.
You make yourself calm and you make yourself angry but outside influences still do exist. Don’t try to become calm, create calm. By doing so you stop creating anger by chaining together angry ideas, because your mind is busy chaining together appreciative ideas that feel good.
Relax, breathe and enjoy. That is what it is to be truly successful. And as great as it is to have a sister like that, you can do this.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.